When Should We Take Exams?

May

By the time March comes around, two thirds of the year is almost over, meaning it’s time to review everything we’ve learned since August and prepare for the most dreaded week at Hockaday: exam week.

Instead of having exams in March, I think having a midterm exam at the end of the first semester and a final exam around the end of the second semester, possibly early May, would keep those stress levels down for all students.

Springtime boasts flowers, sunny days and looking forward to my most highly anticipated holiday of the year, spring break. Nothing truly trumps the beautiful spring air and longer nights—the last ounce of freedom until the summer holidays. Personally, I would prefer for the days leading up to this break not to count as one-fifth of my grade for a class.

Traditionally, schools nationwide follow the trend I suggest for exams. Call me old-fashioned, but I think it’s a system that works. With less material covered in each exam, not only could teachers assess our progress and understanding of concepts both more efficiently and frequently, but we would be less stressed without as many concepts to cover.

Additionally, we’d get two chances to prove ourselves worthy. We could redeem ourselves from our past failures and improve from our prior mistakes, something teachers would take note of. The intimidation of a single, life-changing exam in each class that determines a quarter grade is overwhelming, and grading system-wise, instead of having one exam count as 20 percent of our final grade from the entire year, having two scores combined for this value would more accurately mirror our academic achievements. This system would also give students more incentive to persevere till the very end of the school year, as final exams towards later in the school year would provide more opportunities for changes in grades.

Having exams fourth quarter would also remind ourselves of previous information. I might sound like a teacher, but the content we learn shouldn’t just fade away uselessly. Having exams at the end of the year would serve as an opportunity for us to review and clarify the concepts we may have never fully understood.

Is the price of having harder exams and more pressure during March really worth it just for alleviating some of the pressures associated with the fourth quarter?

– Noor Adatia

March

very March, like clockwork, panic strikes Hockaday Upper School students as they realize that the time for final exams has arrived. I’ll admit, I dread exams just as much as the next girl. There’s nothing quite like the late night study sessions, stress breakouts and moodiness that comes with exam week. However, I’ve come to terms with having exams, a necessary evil, and, although terrible, taking exams in March is much better than having them in May.

For one thing, this earlier date for final exams allows juniors and seniors the time to solely focus on AP exams and SAT subject tests during the month of May. Because final exams account for a solid 20 percent of a student’s grade, the pressure of studying for a full set of exams in May, plus AP exams and SAT subject tests, would be unbearable. Having exams in March spaces out our commitments, alleviating the tremendous amount of stress during a time of the year that is already stressful enough.

In addition to standardized testing, the end of the year also signals the prospect of sunny days and no school. With these thoughts in mind, it comes as no surprise that “senioritis” spreads farther from the senior hall than appreciated. The decrease in academic drive and determination begins to skyrocket as our calendars approach the last day of school. As minds become more distracted and teachers pile up work in an attempt to wrap up the fourth quarter, it becomes harder to keep up with regular schoolwork. Exams in May would make this time of the year even more overwhelming.

In addition to avoiding the creation of long to-do lists during the month of May, March exams also mean that students have less content to review in preparation for final exams. There is no limit to how many formulas and historic dates can be squeezed into April and May. Many Hockaday students already despise the thought of pouring half a year’s worth of content into a packet of questions — do we really need another two months’ worth of information to study on top of this? Having a little less material to study allows students to focus on preparing well, thus fostering a sense of higher academic potential.

Though exams are never a breeze, it would be ten times harder to take them in May. March exams are a no-brainer.

– Eshani Kishore

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